Wicker furniture enhances the cool South Pacific atmosphere of this pleasant, open-air restaurant that literally sits above the water on stilts. The international menu focuses on fish. The seafood, lauded by locals, is always fresh; ask the waiter what the fishing boats brought in that day. House specialties include octopus grilled in lemon and olive oil, salmon in an orange sauce, and sea bass in the pineapple-flavored salsa amazonia.
Casino La Bomba
In the old fire station, Casino La Bomba is more of a cultural curiosity than a culinary one. That said, the traditional food isn't bad, and the service is friendly. You'll have to manoeuvre around the parked fire trucks to get inside, where you are greeted by dried crocodile hides and a menu heavy on grilled fish and roasted chicken.
Club de Deportes Náuticos
This old yacht club with views of the port serves succulent seafood dishes in a relaxed terrace setting. One of the friendliest restaurants in town, this former men's club is a great place to meet the old salts of the area. Bring your fish stories.
El Rey de Mariscos
Locals love this seafood restaurant, and for good reason. The corvina con salsa margarita (sea bass in a seafood-based sauce) is a winner, as is the paila marina, a hearty soup stocked with all manner of fish. The dreary fluorescent lights and faux-wood paneling give this restaurant on the second story of a concrete-block building an undeserved down-at-the-heels air.
You can join the locals for a beer at one of the cafés lining the pedestrian mall of 21 de Mayo. These low-key establishments, many with outdoor seating, are a great place to spend an afternoon watching the passing crowds. An oddity in Arica is the attire of the servers in various tranquil cafés and tea salons (usually called "café con piernas" or "cafés with legs"): women serve coffee and tea dressed in lingerie.
In the evening you won't have trouble finding the city's many watering holes.
For a more refined setting, try the lively, funky Barrabas, a bar and adjoining disco that attracts Arica's younger set.
Discoteca SoHo, near Playa Chinchorro, livens things up weekends with the sounds of pop and cumbia.
Puesta del Sol
The beachfront Puesta del Sol plays '80s tunes and appeals to a slightly older crowd. Weekends you can enjoy live music on the pleasant terrace.
Calle 21 de Mayo
Calle 21 de Mayo is a good place for window-shopping.
Calle Bolognesi, just off Calle 21 de Mayo, is crowded with artisan stalls selling handmade goods.
The Feria Internacional on Calle Máximo Lira sells everything from bowler hats (worn by Aymara women) to blankets to batteries. The Terminal Pesquero next door offers an interesting view of fishing, El Norte Grande's predominant industry.
Located outside the city in the Azapa Valley, the Poblado Artesenal is an artisan cooperative designed to resemble an altiplano community. This is a good place to pick up traditionally styled ceramics and leather.
The length of Calle Chacabuco, four blocks north of Calle 21 de Mayo, is closed to traffic on Sunday for a market featuring everything from soccer jerseys to bootleg CDs.
Iglesia de San Marcos
Located on the Plaza Colón, the Iglesia de San Marcos was erected in 1876 and was constructed entirely from iron. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, designer of that famed eponymous Parisian tower, had the individual pieces cast in France before bringing them to Arica.
Aduana de Arica
Across from the Parque General Baquedano, the Aduana de Arica, the city's former customs house, is one of Eiffel's creations. It currently contains the town's cultural center, where you can find exhibits about northern Chile, old photographs of Arica, and works by local painters and sculptors.
Estación Ferrocarril North of Parque General Baquedano is the defunct train station for the Arica—La Paz railroad. Though trains no longer run across the mountains to the Bolivian capital, there are round-trip journeys four times a week to the altiplano. The 1913 building houses a small museum with a locomotive and other remnants of the railroad.
El Morro de Arica
Hanging over the town, this fortress is impossible to ignore. This former Peruvian stronghold was the site of one of the key battles in the War of the Pacific. The fortress now houses the Museo de las Armas, which commemorates that battle. As you listen to the proud drum roll of military marches, you can wander among the uniforms and weapons of past wars. Museo Arqueológico de San Miguel de Azapa A visit here is a must for anyone who travels to El Norte Grande. In an 18th-century olive-oil refinery, this museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts from the cultures of the Chinchorros (a coastal people) and Tijuanacotas (a group that lived in the antiplano). Of particular interest are the Chinchorro mummies, the oldest in the world, dating to 6000 BC. The incredibly well—preserved mummies are arranged in the fetal position, which was traditional in this area. To look into their wrinkled, expressive faces is to get a glimpse at a history that spans more than 8,000 years. The tour ends at an olive press that functioned until 1956, a reminder of the still-thriving industry in the surrounding valley. The museum is a short drive from Arica. You can also make the 20-minute journey by colectivo from Patricio Lynch for about 600 pesos.
Playa El Laucho
South of El Morro, Playa El Laucho is the closest to the city, and thus the most crowded. It's also a bit rocky at the bottom.
South of Playa El Laucho you'll find Playa Brava, with a pontoon that keeps the kids occupied.
At the somewhat secluded white-sand Playa Chinchorro, 2 km (1 mi) north of the city, you can rent Jet Skis in high season.
Museo del Mar
A newcomer to the Arica museum scene, this is a well-maintained and colorful collection of more than 1,000 seashells and oceanic oddities from around the world. The owner has traveled the globe for more than 30 years to bolster his collection, which includes specimens from Africa, Asia, and you guessed it—Arica.
Huntington Surf Shop
A shop on the main pedestrian mall, Huntington Surf Shop caters to those brought into town by the waves.
Escuela de Surf
Arica also has a surfing school, Escuela de Surf.